An Ethics Train Wreck So Dumb That I’m Embarrassed To Have To Write About It…

…but, as Hyman Roth said, “This is the life we have chosen.”

The train wreck farce unfolds in three acts:

Act I, Scene One: Iowa’s Carson King, 24,  was seen on “ESPN College GameDay”  holding up a moronic sign in a football game crowd that read, “Busch Light supply need replenished. Venmo Carson-King-25.”  That isn’t comprehensible English even by stadium sign standards. Needs to be replenished? Needs replenishment? Giving people positive reinforcement for being illiterate is irresponsible, and makes the public stupid.

Act I, Scene Two: People actually sent money to King’s beer fund on Venmo. With all the really desperate people in this country and all the legitimate objects of charity, this boob’s scrawled plea for beer money struck a chord. People sent in contributions who would normally sneer at homeless people begging on the street.

Act I, Scene Three:  Venmo and Anheuser-Busch, seeing a promotional opportunity, both  pledged to match  donations to Kings “Help me be a drunk!” fund. The sign raised $1.14 million.

Now comes the one moment of reason and ethics in the tale: King decided to donate the money to  the   University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.  Act I ended on a positive note.


Act II, Scene One: Aaron Calvin, a reporter with the Des Moines Register, decided to mine  King’s social media history for dirt. The only reason to do this would be to try to embarrass the young man, or even ruin him. This conduct is unethical and disgusting when used to humiliate a professional athlete or public figure; it is unconscionable to employ against an ordinary citizen, and it is just as horrible whether the effort uncovers anything or not.

Act II, Scene Two: Calvin did find offensive tweets King made eight years ago when he was16. The hot theory in the so-called “cancellation culture” is that age doesn’t matter, maturity is a myth, and the scientific fact that adolescents are thinking with flawed, still-developing brains is no excuse for being stupid, reckless, or misguided. Your childhood indiscretions are fair game to use against you forever.

Act II, Scene Three: King took down the tweets, and grovelled an apology. He should not have done this, but we should not expect ethics nuance from a guy who can’t compose a coherent sign.

“Carson King Apologizes After ‘Hurtful and Embarrassing’ Tweet Surfaces,” the local Fox News affiliate shouted from its website. The tweets hurt nobody until Calvin decided to make them “hurt.” Calvin’s paper  publicized stupid teen age tweets that may have been read by six people in 2012, so hundreds of thousands could see them and be angry at a child who no longer exists, and determine to  punish the man he became.


Act III, Scene One: Anheuser-Busch decided that this was a wonderful opportunity to grandstand, signal its virtue, and throw King, who gave the brand free advertising on national TV, under the bus of shame. The company announced,

“Carson King had multiple social media posts that do not align with our values as a brand or as a company and we will have no further association with him. We are honoring our commitment by donating more than $350,000 to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.”

I wish I drank their crummy beer so I could stop forever.

Act III, Scene Two : Many people, those with operating ethics alarms, complained that the Iowa Register was wrong to publish the old tweets, because it was. Executive editor Carol Hunter  wrote a statement to justify the paper’s unethical conduct:

“Some of the toughest decisions in journalism are about what to publish ⁠ — or not. Such decisions are not made lightly and are rooted in what we perceive as the public good.”

The statement is horrible from beginning to end. She relied on two unethical rationalizations on the Ethics Alarms list: 13A  The Road to Hell, or “I meant well” (“I didn’t mean any harm!”) and 19 B. Murkowski’s Lament, or “It was a difficult decision.”

I particularly detest 19B. If she had a smidgen of decency it wouldn’t have been a difficult decision.

Then she resorted to complete fantasy. How does exposing a teenage tweet to embarrass a man who has just used his good fortune to benefit a hospital advance the public good? It doesn’t. It can’t.

Now I wish I read the Iowa Register so I could cancel my subscription.



Sources: Washington Post, Daily Wire

25 thoughts on “An Ethics Train Wreck So Dumb That I’m Embarrassed To Have To Write About It…

  1. I sometimes drink Budweiser. Not anymore. Now it’s Yuengling, baby! Congratulations, AB, you just lost a 40-year customer over virtue signalling. Hope it’s worth it.

    Once again, say it with me: Twitter is the Devil. Parents, warn your children to Just Say NO! to Twitter, and be very careful on Facebook. Nobody under 21 should be allowed to post on Twitter, and probably on Facebook too.

    As to the reporter and the editor — tar and feathers. A week in the stocks. The unemployment line.

    Complete sentences disallowed for this post.

  2. “The only reason to do this [mine King’s social media history] would be to try to embarrass the young man, or even ruin him.”
    Gotta disagree here, or maybe it’s a quibble. Before you present someone in your newspaper as a hero you should do some checking, including Twitter posts. If something recent and damning shows up, that would be significant. But, I agree, going back that far and then using the information from someone’s adolescence definitely is wrong.
    And, while it appears King went public with the information first, and said it was his decision to publicly address the posts, that does not excuse The Register, neither the publishing nor the lame excuse.

    • King didn’t go public with it until after the reporter had an interview with him that included questions about the tweets he made as a teenager. He probably thought to get out in front of the issue by proactively apologizing.

  3. This story actually makes my blood boil. That reporter should be ashamed of himself and I hate that the newspaper thought it was fair game to dig up “dirt” on Carson.

    Really makes me scared to be on tv or expose myself to the masses.

  4. This whole incident is evidence of the cancer that’s infected our society.

    It’s all there; here’s the general idea:
    1. STUPID sophomoric behavior goes viral because people are STUPID and STUPID goes viral – we must reward STUPID behavior.

    2. STUPIDITY causes people to jump on board giving up their hard earned money to an absurd STUPID cause.

    3. Advertisers want to reap perceived rewards from something STUPID so they join in on the STUPIDITY.

    4. STUPID person does something unexpected and decent and donates the money raised from STUPID people to charity thus promoting himself as a “good person”.

    5. A “journalist” knows there’s no such thing as a good person and chooses to destroy the good person’s life wit skeletons from his closet.

    6. Journalist digitally stalks down the perceived good person and data mines his social media for evidence of a bad person to use in a public smearing.

    7. The “journalist” talks their publisher into virtue signalling by publicly smearing the STUPID person for deeds unworthy of a true good person, they want to cash in on the spectacle by creating a new spectacle of hate towards the STUPID person which will sell newspapers.

    8. Absurd virtue signaling and unethical rationalizations ensues from everyone involved after the STUPID good person has been publicly smeared.

    9. Data mining shifts to the journalist; now we must attack the STUPID unethical messenger.

    10. Journalist is publicly smeared for past deeds that are unworthy of a good journalist.

    11. This ain’t over yet…

    This is signature significance of how our society has been corrupted.

    Our society is doomed.


  5. Jack, I’m afraid you have stumbled upon not an illiterate individual, but one of the most annoying things in the midwest vernacular: “needs replenished.” This is, unfortunately, a very common thing in Indiana (at least where I taught for five years), and it’s creeping into Michigan. “To be” gets arbitrarily dropped, and I do not know why. “My car needs fixed,” or “my taxes need done before April 15,” etc. are all too common. I have a friend from Pennsylvania who commented on a FB post of mine that lamented this, and she said it was also very common where she grew up. It drives me nuts!! But unfortunately it is part of the language somehow…

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